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Google’s Trick or Treat?
Last week at PubCon Matt Cutts announced a 15% reduction in rich snippets. For SEOs this was big (and for some disappointing) news. In this post I’ll explain (in as geek-free language as possible) what this means to businesses who are vying for higher visibility on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
What are Rich Snippets?
Before we get into what changed with regard to rich snippets, let’s first define it. It’s the few lines of text that appears under every search results. It give the human searcher an idea of what’s included on the page and why it’s relevant to their search query. Meta descriptions are rich snippets. It sets up an expectation or promise of what a person will receive if they click on your link.
Different Types of Rich Snippets
There are three types of rich snippets. They all provide unique coding to label content to describe a specific type of information (e.g., person, event, review).
- Microdata – Google recommends this type
- Microformats – it offer conventions (known as entities)
- RDFa – aka Resource Description Framework in Attributes)
Nerd Alert: the following assumes that you have a basic knowledge of HTML. If you’re familiar with schema.org you understand why this is important. It’s kind of like a machine language — helping crawlers and bots understand and label your content. If you use WordPress, no need to worry about formatting. We recommend using WordPress SEO by Yoast; it will help you fill in key bits of microdata. WordPress will do the rest and create clean code that search engine bots can easily consume when indexing your site.
Authorship as Rich Snippets
Authorship — a way of attributing content to a specific person — is displayed in Google search results. You might have seen a person’s picture on a SERP. That’s why authorship can be so powerful, as your eye is drawn to images.
Like in many other aspects of online marketing, some websites have tried to cheat quality guidelines. Rather than create good content and natural links on a site, they’ve abused rich snippets. That’s why Google has closed this loophole. Google is reserving Rich Snippets for websites who are worthy of the extra SERP boost. It’s another reward for being a White Hat SEO player.
Google gave Rich Snippets to low quality sites and now they are taking it away. While it would have been nice that they eliminated the spammy abuses before rolling it out, rich snippets can make your website stand out. If you have 25 minutes, check out Matt’s keynote where he shares “The State of the Index.”
Do you think Google deserves a trick or treat? I say… Treat!
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